Come what? May … Results

Sales and Borrowing

I posted on 10th May to say that I was intending to conduct one of my regular experiments. Before I continue, I should say that the only ‘regular’ thing about my experiments is their frequency. I don’t believe indie writers learn anything by sitting still, observing, and waiting for the world to come to them.

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What was I up to this time?

My personal challenge was to refrain from daily promotion of my books for the remainder of the month, which effectively would mean 20 days of not using any of a variety of platforms to ask people to check out my work.

Contrary to what some folk might think, I’m not an ‘in your face’ type person, so the whole ‘self-marketing’ idea was alien to me when I started out as an indie writer. I learned with my debut title that if I didn’t shout about my work, then nobody else would.

I got on with it, and it produced results. Okay so moving on, nothing mind-boggling, but after a change in my attitude to the sometimes embarrassing act of self-promotion I had a few sales, and I realised the truth – if I waited silently, nothing would happen.

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Did I have work in progress during May?

Having a variety of projects on the go at the same time is my preferred method of working. As May got underway I was already working on two novels, and making notes towards the commencement of a third.

I had to attempt a couple of things to make my idea work:

1. Restrict my visits to social networking sites to a couple of short visits per day.

2. Compel myself not to check my sales and lending figures on a daily basis.

3. Remind myself that I was trying this thing for more than one reason.
a) Primarily, it was to free up more writing time.
b) Secondly, it was to see how much effect it would have if there was a lack of daily promotion.

Apart from my own interest, both of those targets were for the benefit of any fellow indies who read my posts, either as subscribers, or by extension when I offer my thoughts on social media.

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How did it go with social networking visits?

I managed for the most part to keep to two or three visits per day. There was an anomaly in this area, because I continued trying to keep up to date with the first charity anthology by the Indie Author Review Exchange group on Facebook. I’m proud to be both a member of that particular group, and a contributing author to the anthology.

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What is that very important collection of stories?

You’re Not Alone by Ian D. Moore and friends.

To be published as an eBook on 11th July 2015.

An anthology of short stories produced to raise funds in aid of the Macmillan Nurses
An anthology of short stories produced to raise funds in aid of the Macmillan Nurses

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Apart from that, how did I get on?

Otherwise, I feel I did well. I avoided getting tangled into the threads on Facebook, forums on LinkedIn, or keeping up with comments on Google+. I have to be honest and admit that Twitter irritates me, so although I use it, I cannot spend good time reading bite-size chunks and random thoughts.

Now having said that about Twitter – I do actually stop and check out books that are advertised on Twitter, which is why I still use it myself, obviously thinking that there might be like-minded souls out there.

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Were there any sales, lending, or slumps?

Yes, and there was no discernible pattern or reason.
— I had sales of various levels except for five days.
— I had lending except for six days.
— There was a two day period when there were neither sales nor lending.

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Did I learn anything else?

Yes, and it’s for the benefit of those indie authors who presently have one, or even two titles out there and are feeling a little disheartened. I’m not a big name, but in only a few years of self-publishing I can say that without a shadow of doubt – more titles means more sales.

That might sound simplistic, but in a blog next week I’ll elaborate on that area. What I have to say in that post may be of interest not only to those of my peers with one title, but also those with low sales figures.

What else have I achieved with my latest experiment – if anything?

1. In that period of 20 days when I was abstaining from advertising, reading mind-numbing messages, and getting involved in conversations and debates – I completed the first draft of seven more chapters of my latest crime thriller, Acts of Vengeance.
If you know how hard I work at my craft you will appreciate that was a feat.

2. Those chapters might not sound too remarkable, but to put them in perspective, I also started work on and completed the first two chapters of my first erotic novel, Give and Take.

3. Again, it may not seem like much, but the exercise has given me a boost in confidence in my own brand. I know there are those who do not believe that an author’s name is a brand, so for you guys, please think about this question:

Would you consider any of the following as brands?

Wilbur Smith, Jackie Collins, Stephen King, Lee Child, Katie Fforde, or James Patterson.

It was just a thought …

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Where do I go from here?

As I assess the positive and negative aspects of my trial, I have to say that I’m happy that I tried such a thing. My initial thoughts are along the following lines:

1. Maintain my writing output as best I can. I’m in the enviable position of only working in a ‘day job’ for three days per week, so I can feasibly get in at least three writing days.

2. Get back to self-promotion, but only on a weekly, or possibly twice-weekly basis:
a) Promotion on Facebook groups which exist for the purpose of reading, reviewing and self-promotion.
b) Promotion on Twitter, because it is done automatically by the Independent Author Network, of which I am a member.
c) Promotion on Google+ because I’m a member and I check out other members news.

3. Blogging activity:
a) Try to write at least one blog post per week.
b) Allocate time to read other blogs. I supposedly have 140+ ‘followers’ but I tend to mainly visit those who I know make an effort to visit mine. It may not be often, but I do get there.

4. Continue to read and review as many Indie Author Review Exchange members’ books as possible.

5. Maintain a ‘maximum of 3 x 15-minute visits per day’ policy for social purposes on Facebook. There is a tendency to get involved in discussions on social networking sites, but time disappears when we’re in touch with those that we regard as friends.

There is a slight twist in that previous comment. I admit openly that I do not socialise in the regular sense these days, and have not for some years. The term ‘friend’ is used freely on social networking by many, but that is effectively where any of my present friendships exist.

Yes, since leaving the military in 1992, I have become something of a social hermit, but I don’t mean that in a pathetic way – it is fact, and through personal choice.

Thank you as always for taking the time to visit and check out my musings. I appreciate all feedback.

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Oh yes, there’s a P.S.

In the last 24 hours I completed the first full draft of Acts of Vengeance. I will now let it ‘rest’ for at least a week. While that manuscript is resting I’ll be active with some more chapters on Give and Take, my secondary work in progress.

I will also be reading, editing, and critiquing work for my peers. One of my favourite background roles is acting as mentor for a fellow writer.

I know it’s still early days, but I already feel that if you enjoyed my anthology Coming Around and other erotic stories, you will enjoy the novel Give and Take.

Thanks again for reading my posts.

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V … is for Value

V[1] is for value. In writing terms it is also for vanity, vocabulary, voice, viewpoint, visual, and a few other very useful words, but today I’m looking at value.

Once again, I’ll use my own situation, which will make it easier for me to explain, and perhaps easier for a fellow writer to understand.

I spent a considerable time on both of the novels I’ve already got out there as eBooks on Amazon. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m a relatively unknown author. Like anybody who writes, I’d like to make money from it, and feel a bit more professional about the whole thing, but I’m also realistic.

How about an example?

I know a local writer, who we’ll imaginatively refer to as Mr X, who has two thrillers on Amazon, using the same route as me to sell his work, via e-publishing. I read his first book and wasn’t impressed by certain aspects of it, so my review wasn’t glowing. I sampled the second book, but even the first five screens were enough to warn me off. I didn’t buy it.

That author has a lot of self-belief, but I think he’s confusing effort with ability. I also know he wants something for nothing. By keeping my ear to the ground I know that there are not a lot of sales going his way.

You may think I’m being a bit bitchy, but please consider the following question.

Would you spend £4.99 ($8.00) on an eBook written by an unknown author?

For me to do that, I’d have to be impressed by the blurb and the sample reading. Mr X books are not value for money in my humble opinion.

Why do I believe Mr X is wrong?

Until we become recognised, even in a small way, we should be considering:

1.  The value for money for our prospective readers (customers).

2.  The value of our prospective readers (customers) budget for spending on books (eBooks or otherwise).

 3.  The true literary, and monetary value of our writing in comparison to an established author’s work.

4. The true value or merit, of our early works.

5. The value and credibility of our name as an author if we aim too high, too early in our aspirations.

Now, having listed those, I know there could have been more, but I feel that my short lists are more effective, because they both help my blog readers to focus, and to use their own imagination.

How do I deal with the value issue?

For any out there thinking, ‘this is all about his writing,’ and ‘why does it matter how he does it?’. I make no apologies. Anybody with a basic knowledge of our craft, will understand the marketing issues inherent in our solitary world.

We must employ self-promotion, as much as it goes against the grain at first.

To put it succinctly, although I use my techniques, and my book titles to create examples, it doesn’t follow that I believe I’m the best to give advice.

Okay, for any critics out there, that was my version of a disclaimer. I hope it was enough, because my big pitch about value is imminent.

How do I price my eBooks?

I maintain a reasonably low price for my eBooks, which is about half the price of the ones mentioned earlier, published by Mr X.

Why do I do that if they’re selling better?

Value.

 1.  I’m confident that all my new readers get value for money.

2.  I’m confident that I’m not asking much of a price for somebody to give my writing a chance.

3.  I know I’m not a household name, so I don’t try to compete with them (yet).

4.  I know my method is working, because I designed my own covers to start with. Sales of my eBooks have now paid for two of them to be designed professionally. That will I’m sure be a fresh investment.

5.  For me, the true value of patience, hard work, and not being greedy is simple; I am my own ‘brand’.

As soon as this post is published online, I’m putting together the final formatting for my first collection of short stories, ‘Smoke & Mirrors and other stories’. I’ll come back later and add a live link, plus of course it will have a place on my main menu here at Tom Benson – Creative.

There are 12 stories in the book, and it will be going out at a low price, because not every story will appeal to every reader. For now, I’ve designed my own cover, but that will change.

This latest venture I believe provides value to my prospective readers (customers), because of the variety of tales from an unknown author.

It provides value for me, because perhaps there will be those that enjoy my style and follow up by buying into my novels.

What price are you prepared to pay in £’s or $’s to try out a new author’s work in eBook format?  

My sincere thanks as always for putting yourself through this literary quagmire of fact and opinion. I’ll be back tomorrow with ‘W’.